They Live by Night

They Live by Night

Nicholas Ray (1948)

PG Certificate


Our Score
Nicholas Ray made his directorial debut with this Depression-era drama about young lovers on the run from the law, who find themselves staring into the abyss. Cathy O'Donnell and Farley Granger play the misfits who meet in the aftermath of a prison break-out. They fall in love and marry, but Granger is unable to shake off his criminal associations, leaving little prospect of a happy ending. There are superficial similarities with later films like Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands, but this is a poignant story of idealism and romanticism betrayed by corruption. Ray's later films like Johnny Guitar and Rebel without a Cause enjoy a cult following, but this was a stunning debut. Edward Anderson's source novel Thieves like Us was remade by Robert Altman in the 1970s under its original title.


A man imprisoned for an accidental killing breaks out of jail with two hardened thugs and helps them rob a bank, hoping to use his share of the loot to hire a lawyer and prove his innocence. When he falls in love with the daughter of a garage owner, he plans to lead an honest life - but his partners-in-crime force him to take part in one more robbery. Drama, starring Farley Granger, Cathy O'Donnell and Howard da Silva.

Cast & Crew

Arthur `Bowie' Bowers Farley Granger
Katherine `Keechie' Mobley Cathy O'Donnell
Elmo `Chickamaw' Mobley Howard Da Silva
Mattie Mansfield Helen Craig
Henry `T-Dub' Mansfield Jay C Flippen
Mobley Will Wright
Singer Marie Bryant
RT Waters William Phipps
Director Nicholas Ray
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Other Information

Language: EnglishBlack and whiteTheatrical distributor: R.K.O. Radio Pictures Ltd